No self-respecting movie watcher pays to see a Jennifer Lopez movie in a large dark room or on a video service like Xbox Live and expects to see a decent movie. I’m sorry but her career is just way past that. There are standout movies from her, mainly Monster In Law, but seeing a movie like The Boy Next Door qualifies as spectator sport. You’re not paying to see the timeless elements of moving making blended into a decent thriller; no sir you aren’t. You’re watching because you want to know in whether the movies writers, director and actors will manage to crawl out of the cheap thriller hole they found themselves in the moment they took on the project.

Lopez stars in The Boy Next Door as a woman scorned. Early in the movie, she’s perfectly content to focus on family. There are ancillary characters around; mainly a best friend, (Kristen Chenoworth) who is pushing Lopez to get over her marriage and focus on finding someone new. Instead, Lopez puts all the focus on her son (Ian Nelson), who is hyper allergenic and can have a serious attack just from just adrenaline. (No, I’m not sure that’s based on real cases of allergies or not, but I digress.)

That’s when a new neighborhood charmer moves in next door (Ryan Guzman). The very title of the film, The Boy Next Door, hints at what happens next. At a low point, Lopez’s character sleeps with the next door neighbor. We also know how these types of films end. Lopez and Guzman’s relationship can’t and won’t last. What we’re all paying for is a look at how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Early on, the two main characters play it like a romantic drama. Lopez, while appreciating the night they shared, slowly gets nervous at just how close her son and her young sexual partner are becoming. They’re boxing together, doing household projects together, acting almost as if they’re father and son. Lopez’s cheating husband picks up on the closeness of the relationship too, prompting him to revaluate his priorities and rekindle their romance. Obviously, the young boyfriend isn’t having any of this.

What we have is the raw materials for an inferno. At just the write time a plot twist sets everything ablaze. Having not asked the right questions before hand, Lopez is shocked to learn that her new affair partner – and I struggle to call this an affair since it only happened once – is a student at her school. As it turns out, he’s a delinquent who just can’t seem to get his act together.

Twenty minutes later and the film is trotting out every semi-successful plot device for a half-decent thriller this side of The Secretary. There’s a slow speed car chase. In another scene Lopez is in a dark basement trying to find out anything and everything she can in her neighbor’s basement before he catches her. Gross out comedy, burning barns; if you can think of it The Boy Next Door has it for some reason. The writers even throw in a small murder mystery for good measure.

As you can only judge The Boy Next Door for its dissent into madness, some might think it unfair to judge the film as a whole. After all, the framework for the story is pretty basic and something you can pick up on with just a glance at the movie poster. I say those people are slightly off base. Life isn’t fair and this movie is proof that even all cheap thrillers aren’t created equally.

The Boy Next Door isn’t a movie you should see necessarily. Its dialogue is terrible, that main sex scene is horribly executed. The plot twists are so badly done that you’ll assume the person in charge of this film had his head up his rear-end for the warmth instead of paying attention to how wonderfully lackluster the script and acting in this movie really is.

The thing is, The Boy Next Door succeeds at being lackluster so well that it’s almost awesome to rent just to watch the train crash. Notice, I said almost.

The Boy Next Door never manages to climb out of that aforementioned hole. Instead, it sticks a neon sign out front and invites you to join it there. Whether you’re willing to drop $4.99 on a rental in Xbox Video for the privilege is completely up to you.

| Saturday Night @ the Movies: ‘The Boy Next Door’ review

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